“The global wave of school strikes for the climate over the past year has ‘achieved nothing’ because greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise, Greta Thunberg has told activists at UN climate talks in Madrid… she said that although schoolchildren had been striking around the world, this “has not translated into action” from governments… [Greta continued..] ‘We can’t go on like this; it is not sustainable that children skip school and we don’t want to continue – we would love some action from the people in power.'” The Guardian, Dec 6th 2019.
As emissions rise, impacts worsen, governments dither, and the science darkens the horizon for humanity, what is next for the FridaysForFuture movement of school strikers? What is next for young people in general? For anyone concerned about the climate emergency, this seems like one of the most important questions.
My outlook on the future is that while it is too late to stop a breakdown of our societies over the coming years due to the impacts of climate change, it is not too late to learn from our failures and try to reduce harm, through bold carbon cuts, drawdown and deep adaptation.
Helping young people prepare emotionally, practically and politically for a turbulent future is something that has felt important to me. It is why over last year I talked to children, youth, teachers and child psychologists about the latest shocking climate news and the worst-case scenarios.
One output of that dialogue is a half hour documentary, which I release today on www.ScientistsWarning.tv
Oskar’s Quest is a film about how a 13 year old boy called Oskar allowed his shock and sadness about climate to transform his approach to school and set off a chain reaction, which led to circles of school children discussing their thoughts and feelings about the likely collapse of society from climate change.
I made the film to help parents, teachers and young people explore more widely the issues, emotions and ideas on this topic. In particular, I want to encourage adults to move beyond discussions of what is the best thing to say, tweet or post about the school strikers, and instead explore how we can act in real solidarity with them. That means recognising that the striking children are compromising their own wellbeing in order to push for significant action, and so it is time to consider how we join them in that approach.
One of those areas of solidarity with children must be in adults challenging the inappropriate schooling that children are being forced through. The international federation of teachers trade unions issued this statement in support of the striking students:
“Unfortunately, in too many countries education is narrowed down to target producing a skilled workforce, and curricula and syllabi is driven by standardised testing. Such systems undermine teaching and learning and the purpose of education; they will not build active citizenship or critical thinking or understanding of a wide range of human concerns and experiences. Curricula and teaching and learning materials need to be urgently revised and improved to address the environmental crisis and give all learners the skills and knowledge needed for climate justice.”
If you like the film, please share it on all your social media accounts and email it to people you know in education and activism.
If you want to organise a showing of the film in your school or community, and invite Oskar, or his mum Simona or dad Joel, to speak by video link, then please use this form and ask for Simona.
I thank all those who crowdfunded the film, and Rob Moir of Ocean River Institute for organising the crowdfund. I thank the Mowdy family for their openness and trust, as well as the staff and students of Green School. I also thank Joseph for filming and editing with me, and Morison Bennett of Globular for permission to use his music.
If you are interested in using this footage in another film project, please use this form to contact my assistant.
The 30 minute film can be watched for free here.